Local News and Stories

Shrine of St. Therese Ministers to the Homeless


“It’s one of the issues for people who don’t have housing,” Patrick Tutak shared, “not having a place that’s private, where you can self-reflect.”

During the summer and fall, Tutak and others who are homeless in Juneau can step away from the noise and distractions of their lives and enjoy the “stillness” of the National Shrine of St. Therese.

Once a month Joe Sehnert, the Shrine’s Executive Director, will bring the Cathedral of Nativity’s bus to the Glory Hole shelter and soup kitchen in downtown Juneau and give those using the shelter’s services the opportunity to spend the afternoon at the Shrine.

The ministry began about a year ago, by the diocese’s former bishop, Bishop Edward Burns. After the Bishop’s d e p a r t u re for Dallas, Sehnert and the Shrine decided to continue the homeless outreach program.

June was the first time in 2017 the trip from the Glory Hole to the Shrine was made
and five people took the opportunity to enjoy the change of pace, as well as the beauty of the Shrine.

One of the guests described his time at the Shrine as a “vacation” being able to enjoy nature and leave the noise and busyness of living on the streets of downtown Juneau, even if only for a few hours. He shared that when he is sober for two years, he plans to buy a car so he can visit the Shrine more often.

During the visit the Shrine Caretakers, Deacon Jeff and Lisa Volker, prepare a lunch for the group to eat in the Shrine Lodge. Before the meal was served one of the guests asked to read from scripture to the group; he shared 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 and Patrick Tutak led everyone in prayer.

As the afternoon at the Shrine concluded Tutak shared that he hoped the bus for the next trip would be full “because God works through people and that the people who came (to the Shrine) recognized his voice saying come, I’m inviting you, through the voice of people.”


The National Shrine of St. Therese also works with the Glory Hole to provide haircuts once a month to those who receive services from the Juneau shelter.

The haircut ministry started last fall prompted by Pope Francis’ efforts to provide outreach, including haircuts, to the homeless living in Vatican City.

Sehnert shared that everything came together one day while he was getting his haircut. “I asked the owners of Capital Hair and Nails, if they would like to partner with the Shrine to offer haircuts to the homeless” living in the community. The owners were happy to provide the service and the haircut ministry began.

O n  t h e second Sunday of the month, Joe Sehnert will use the Cathedral’s bus to pick up those who want a haircut and take them to Capital Hair and Nails. Sehnert recalls that in the first month of the program only a few people from the Glory Hole showed up for haircuts, but that didn’t deter Joe from continuing the ministry. Now he says “We usually serve about 10 to 20 people each month.”

As the program has grown, the Juneau Young Adult group has stepped in to offer help transporting people between the Glory Hole and the Salon.

The homeless haircut ministry is a collaborative effort made possible by the Bishop’s Office (which covers the cost of the haircuts), Capital Hair and Nails (offering discounted rates for the ministry), the Juneau Young Adult group and the National Shrine of St. Therese.

If you are interested in supporting this homeless outreach ministry please contact Joe Sehnert, Executive Director of the National Shrine of St. Therese, at 907-586-2227 x 24.

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